George Osodi

George Osodi, Nigerian Monarchs (HRH Shehu of Borno Empire Abubakar Umar Garbai El Kanemi), 2016. Image courtesy the artist

George Osodi, Nigerian Monarchs (HRH Shehu of Borno Empire Abubakar Umar Garbai El Kanemi), 2016. Image courtesy the artist

George Osodi (b. 1974, Lagos, Nigeria) lives and works in Lagos. Osodi studied Business Administration at the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos. He worked as a photojournalist with Comet Newspaper in Lagos from 1999–2001, before joining the Associated Press News Agency in Lagos from 2001–08. His photographs range between photojournalism and artistic documentary, covering topics from contemporary Nigerian monarchs through to injustices occurring in the Niger Delta over its natural resources.

Nigerian Monarchs is a series of photographs that depicts the regional rulers in George Osodi’s home country of Nigeria. On display at Open Eye Gallery, the images convey the different personalities of the rulers as well as the extravagant regalia that now stand as symbols of lost power: their role has been largely relegated to a ceremonial one with no constitutional powers. Celebrating the ethnic diversity and cultural complexity of Nigeria, the portraits also reference Europe’s colonialist past: some of the rulers’ ancestors were kings during times of slavery. Osodi hopes to redress their inaccurate depiction during the early days of colonialism by portraying the rulers in the stately and dignified manner that befits them.

Osodi was awarded first prize at the Fuji Africa Photojournalist of the Year Award in 2004 and was shortlisted for the Sony World Photography Award in 2009. He has exhibited at Newark Museum, New Jersey, USA (2015); The Photographers’ Gallery, London, UK (2012); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2010); National Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo, Norway (2009); and documenta 12, Kassel, Germany (2007).

Image courtesy the artist and TAFETA

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